Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"I Dropped My Chalupa on the Carpet"


            My mother didn’t cook Mexican food. In our home, a taco represented the ultimate in Mexican cuisine. As a child, I eagerly anticipated the enchiladas, rice and beans our school served on Wednesdays. That habit of weekly Mexican food became ingrained, and I find I must prepare something with hot sauce and refried beans on a weekly basis. Or we head over to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants for “the real thing.”
            The tacos of my childhood gave way to chalupas after I got married since my husband prefers them. The narrow confines of a taco shell, which usually break when I try to stuff them with ingredients, frustrated me. I converted easily to the flat, easy-to-stack-layers-upon, chalupa shell.
            Over the years, I’ve become a pro at dropping corn tortillas into hot oil without injury. I can cook up ground beef with an assortment of spices to make my mouth water. I can grate cheese effortlessly and efficiently into a six inch mound. I can even make guacamole like an expert.
            I line up all of the ingredients, once ready, into an assembly line that would make Ford envious. Usually, I position two crisp shells upon my plate, slather on a layer of refried beans to glue my meat into place. After I sprinkle the beef onto the shells, I pile on lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, cheese and hot sauce. Sometimes my creations rise several inches above my plate.
            One day, I balanced two chalupas on a plate in one hand and a nice ice cold glass of milk in the other. I carefully approached the dining room table and set the milk down first. Then, my plate angled just the tiniest bit, and one of my mountainous chalupas slipped and dropped onto the carpet.
            Now, you’d imagine that with all of life’s trials, I wouldn’t remember the demise of one perfect chalupa; but I do. For some odd reason, that slip and slide—which replays in slow motion now—signaled the beginning of a loss of control within my life. This isn’t a bad thing since I tend to over manage everything. The evening I dropped my chalupa on the carpet, I laugh so hard I almost joined it on the floor.
Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"A Bully"

“If you don’t like the real world, invent your own.” Rachel Maddow, October 5, 2012.
A Bully
A bully
Hands clenched
Chin thrust
Legs spread wide
A stance ready for assault
Pummeling reason with illogical fists
Blow after blow
Lie after lie
Kicking the fallen
Feeding off of fear
Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, September 9, 2013

"Missing Ireland"

Christ Church Cathedral
Dublin, Ireland

Missing Ireland

           When the day’s troubles weigh me down, Ireland calls to me. I hear the lilt of her voice over the drudgery of my days. In a second, I time travel back to Dublin’s streets where we dodge cars and raindrops in pursuit of museums and castles, where I hear the wild tales of Viking conquerors. I’m stretched out on cool sheets, with windows thrown open to the soft laughter of children in a park, dreaming of a magical past. I’m sleeping in the castle where Bram Stoker once lived. And I’m writing a novel in my head.
In Trim, we experience the arms-wide-open hospitality of our hosts, and the loveliness of long idle walks through the ancient cemetery. We skirt around the River Boyne’s treasures. The ancient burial mounds gentled by time, pique my creativity. Another poem, another story, another world to create. Newgrange and Tara, passages into my own imagination. From the parapets of ancient Trim Castle, I view rolling hills dressed in a patchwork of green. Clamoring down the steep circular stairs, I become the servant or the soldier. On another day, from the mist, steps a Frenchman with the key to another adventure. And we enter Ireland’s womb, hear her heartbeat, embrace her warmth as she shelters us from autumn’s cold tears. Over hot tea, we chat with locals before walking through gardens filled with ageless yews. The rain pats softly, now, against our umbrellas.
Our travels take us on, toward the coast and the music of Doolin. Mingled with voices, fiddles, and guitars comes the murmur of the Atlantic. Her song blends with bird and man in perfect harmony. On the Burren, we scramble across rock, zigzag along the coast, and stand on the edge of the world. With ocean spray slapping our faces, we cross over to Aran Island, spending our day in a buggy, our horse on his last trip before retirement, our driver born to this island of rock wall and small pastures. With pride, he introduces us to his dog, and takes us by his cottage before leaving us at the pub. Our “ride” home takes us to the Cliffs of Moher, where my heart aches over the beauty. Our nights fill with food, drink, and song from the local pubs. Our mornings with bright breakfast talk from others who want Ireland as their mistress, too.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Trim Castle on the River Boyne at Trim, Ireland

Aran Island, Ireland

View from the top of Knowth, Ireland

Approaching the Cliffs of Moher